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The Latest on Internet Pharmacies, Supplements, Designer Drugs,
and Other High-Risk Merchants

The Economy and Prescription Drugs

These days, the economy affects just about every aspect of our lives. The big decisions, like buying a new car or trying to get that small business loan, are being shelved while we wait for friendlier financial times. And increasingly, the smaller, everyday decisions are getting more scrutiny as our collective wallet tightens. One of these so-called small decisions? Filling prescriptions.

An article in today’s New York Times describes the situation in which many Americans now find themselves: “People are having to choose between gas, meals and medication,” said Dr. James King, the chairman of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

With the average number of prescriptions per person on the rise- jumping from 8.9 in 1997 to 12.6 in 2007- combined with climbing insurance co-pays, people are starting to pick and choose which prescriptions they fill in an effort to balance the household budget.

What does this have to do with the Internet pharmacy market?

Many rogue Internet pharmacies claim that their drugs are considerably cheaper than the ones you’d get at your local pharmacy. It’s an effective strategy. (Never mind the fact that these “drugs” might have been made in someone’s basement. And never mind, also, that legitimate generics are often much cheaper than the drugs pushed by these rogue sites.)

As American consumers look for creative ways to cut daily living expenses, the “Cheap meds!”, “85% discount!”, “Beat any price, guaranteed!” advertisements of the rogue Internet pharmacies may well gain appeal.

LegitScript’s take is that falling for these ads and purchasing prescription drugs from illicit sources sharply increases the risk of receiving counterfeit, expired or otherwise substandard medications. A recent study by the European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines found that over 60% of drugs purchased in test-buys from Internet pharmacies were counterfeit or substandard. Interestingly, the study also found that to the untrained eye (read: average consumer), the drugs appeared legitimate.

The bottom line? The cost of such a risk far outweighs the benefit of a few (potentially imaginary) saved dollars.